MI6 has a new spymaster.

The British government said Friday that career intelligence officer Alex Younger is the agency's new chief.

Younger, who previously oversaw MI6 counterterrorism operations, replaces John Sawers next month.

MI6, or the Secret Intelligence Service, is Britain's foreign intelligence agency. Its most famous boss is the fictional M in the James Bond stories — although the real-life MI6 chief is known as C.

Until the 1990s, the spymaster's identity was kept secret. Sawers was the agency's most high-profile boss, delivering speeches and appearing at televised parliamentary hearings.

Younger says he is "determined to build on this and bring my ideas for a modern service to life."

The agency is facing pressure for even more openness after revelations by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.